Impact of Widowhood and Disability Among Elderly

Impact of Widowhood and Disability Among Elderly

Irudaya Rajan S. (Centre for Development Studies, India) and Sunitha S. (Centre for Development Studies, India)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-4772-3.ch004
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Aging is a natural phenomenon in which widowhood and disability are the major characteristics of concern. The main objective of the chapter is to sift the relationship between widowhood and disability by gender. It examines the factors affecting female elderly with the disability and measures both subjective and objective disabilities. This study is evidenced from the Kerala Ageing Survey (KAS), 2013, with a sample of 7668 elderly in which 58% are females. Three major physical disabilities, namely vision, hearing, and walking, and mental disabilities, such as cognitive impairment and depression, are to be analyzed through the data. Before that, disability trends and prevalence of both India and Kerala by age and sex are closely examined through census figures. It is revealed that elderly women are at risk of many factors compared to their male counterparts. They are vulnerable to multiple disabilities. The prevalence of disability is more among elderly females after the age of 70. The main physical problem of elderly is vision followed by movement and hearing impairment.
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Widows In India

According to the Global Report on Widows (2015), India has the highest number of widows in the world. The incidence of widowhood rises sharply with age. According to the 2011 census, total number of widows in India was 43,261,478 and that of widowers was 12,277,229. There are 3524 widows to every 1000 widowers.

Figure 1 explores the changes in the widowhood rate in India that occurred during the inter survey period between 2001 and 2011. The rate has declined for females while there was a slight increase among the males at their later ages. The figure also shows that widowhood started among females at younger ages, though it is not so intense among males. Widowhood rate among males stood at 10 percent between the ages of 65 and 69 years, whereas the same rate is observable among the females between the ages of 45 and 49 years. Thus, it can be concluded that the intensity of widowhood among females started in their early years of life while it started in later years among males.

Figure 1.

Age specific widowhood rate in India by sex, 2001 and 2011

Source: Calculated from Census 2001 and 2011, Registrar General of India, Govt. of India

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